Today I learned…: Family culture

Yes I’m pretty bored. Posting stuff on WordPress is the last thing I would do, according to my sister.

  • “Because the social benefit is extremely good here (in Canada), family ties are weakened/undermined (to some extent)”: That was from an interesting conversation that I had with my roommate. For context, she is a Chinese Canadian, who did a degree in Resources Economics and is doing a Law degree. We were discussing the difference between Canadian/Caucasian vs. Asian/Chinese family. I was taken aback to know that over here, upon reaching 18 years of age, the kid will be expected to take care of himself – it’s not just cooking your own food or doing your own laundry. He is expected to move out, get a job and pay for his expenses. He may or may not receive allowance/financial support from his family. My roommate’s friend was laid off from work and his parents would allow him to stay in the house for only a week and not more because they want to have their own privacy. There isn’t just this example – hundreds of people are living temporarily at a homeless shelter every day even when they do have family members. While I expressed worry over the severe lack of family supports and ties, my roommate wasn’t so concerned. She was raised in a traditional Chinese family and experienced the conflict in cultures within her family. The lack of family support, in her opinion, removes the external influences on one’s decision-making process. Once a person is capable of supporting himself, receiving favors from his family ultimately will mean that he has to consider his family members’ opinions when he makes any decision. If he doesn’t, it will be seen as disrespectful to those people that have contributed so much to make him who he is now. A Western society like the one in Canada values independence so much and partly for that reason, social welfare is extremely developed here. When in trouble, one will not have to rely solely on his family. “But your family means well to you, why wouldn’t you want to take in their opinions?”, I asked. My roommate explained that it is not that kid here doesn’t want to take their parents’ opinions, just that they might override your own decision. Once he receives “favors” from your parents, he cannot disregard his parents’ opinions. The last thing you want to hear when you make mistake is “I told you so” – it inhibits your creative side and makes you increasingly risk-adverse. My take from this conversation: I might have ended up elsewhere if I were brought up to be more independent. It is interesting to see and third-hand experience a different parenting style and mindset than the one I have. About whether social benefits actually undermine family ties, I think it is a self-perpetuating relationship – I don’t know which one came first.


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